A new look Indian side is all set to fight and retain glory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 © AFP & IANS
A new look Indian side is all set to fight and retain glory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 © AFP & IANS (File Photo)

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is all set to begin in England from June 1. It would see the defending champions India, along with seven other sides to fight it out for the prestigious title, as the tournament is also termed as the ‘mini World Cup’. However, as India get set to defend their title, things have surely changed in the team from the last time they won the title in the same country, four years back. With a new look side all set to fight and retain glory, it is time we look at the five possible players who could well make an impact in the tournament. An open letter to the BCCI

Shikhar Dhawan

In 2013, Shikhar Dhawan was not as popular as he is now © AFP (File Photo)
In 2013, Shikhar Dhawan was not as popular as he is now © AFP (File Photo)

The name does sound immensely familiar now, instead of what it sounded four years back. In 2013, Dhawan was not as popular as he is now. That tournament changed his reputation.

Dhawan slammed twin centuries in the 2013 edition, and also went on to become the top run scorer of the tournament, as he guided India to their second title win.

Dhawan scored 363 runs from the 5 matches he played at 91 and the runs came at a strike rate of 101. A year later, Dhawan had a successful run in the ODI series in England where he finished with 155 runs at 91.17.

Injuries and poor form hampered Dhawan’s international run in 2016-17 season but the good news is the southpaw is back in form courtesy good scores in IPL. Playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Dhawan managed to score 479 runs from 14 matches at 37 and a strike rate of 128. He slammed three half-centuries and his highest score was 77. Dhawan had a good start in the warm-up matches. He scored 40 against New Zealand and followed it with a 60 against Bangladesh. India preview: Defending champions look forward to cross ‘fatigue’ and ‘expectation’ hurdle

India will hope his fairytale story in England continues…

Virat Kohli

Ever since Virat Kohli has broken into the Indian squad, he has certainly made a name for himself © IANS
Ever since Virat Kohli has broken into the Indian squad, he has certainly made a name for himself © IANS (File Photo)

A name, which just cannot be kept out. Ever since Virat Kohli has broken into the Indian squad, he has certainly made a name for himself, owing to his consistent and impressive performance with the bat. Being one of the most celebrated Indian batsmen at present, Kohli’s extraordinary ability to deliver under pressure makes him stand apart. He also played an essential role in India’s title victory in the 2013 Champions Trophy. As captain there will be extra pressure on him but that is something he has always thrived under. Considering his performance in the previous edition of the Champions Trophy, Kohli was the third highest run scorer for India after Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. He scored 176 runs from the five matches, along with an average of 59 and a strike rate of 86, including a half-century, as his highest score was an unbeaten 58.  Although not as impressive as compared to Dhawan, his consistent contribution to the Indian side, even as a supporting role was vital to steer India to the title win.

As a skipper, Kohli suffered a poor run as captain for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as the side ended last in the IPL. India will not want that to effect him. IND strong contenders to win ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Pathan

The other matter of concern was his performance in England the last time in 2014, where he managed to score just 54 runs in the four games at 18. He had flopped miserably in the 2014 Test series as well. Though he mentioned that he never plays for redemption, Kohli will look forward to prove himself.

MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni was the skipper when India won the title back in 2013 © IANS (File Photo)
MS Dhoni was the skipper when India won the title back in 2013 © IANS (File Photo)

Another Indian name hard to be ignored. One of the most successful skippers to have ever led the Indian side, MS Dhoni was the skipper when India won the title back in 2013, and became the first ever captain in the world to win all the ICC tournaments, including the ICC Cricket World Cup (2011) and the ICC World T20 (2007). However, it will not be the case this time as he has decided to move on with the captaincy, handing the reins to Kohli.

Dhoni’s outing in the 2013 edition was dismal, he managed to score just 27 runs and his record in England is not impressive. However, during the tour of England in 2014, he played a decent role, scoring 81 runs from the two innings he batted, along with an average of 41 and a strike rate of 87, including a half-century, as his highest total was 52. As he batted lower down the order at No.5 or six, he usually did not come out to bat on most of the occasions.

Dhoni is expected to bat at No.5 in this side and in his first assignment as only a player, he did more than a decent job. In the ODI series against England in January 2017, he was more impactful, scoring 165 runs from the three games, along with an average of 55 and a strike rate of 101, including a ton. Champions Trophy 2002: Bizarre rain-rule results in joint winners

Dhoni will have more role to play behind the stumps as a wicketkeeper in conditions favourable to swing bowling. Also, his inputs to the new skipper Virat Kohli will be more than crucial.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar Kumar as also a part of the winning side during the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy © IANS (File Photo)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar as also a part of the winning side during the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy © IANS (File Photo)

Apart from the three batsmen, there are a couple of bowlers to watch out for as well, and what a way it would be start off with India’s most trusted seam bowler at present, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Bhuvneshwar caught everyone’s eye with his ability to swing the ball, since he made his debut for India in 2012-13 series against Pakistan. With his prodigious movement, Bhuvi reminded everybody of Irfan Pathan.

He was also a part of the winning side during the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy. Although, he was not the highest wicket-taker, he was the second most economical bowler in the side after all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Bhuvneshwar managed to claim just six wickets from the five matches, along with an average of 23 and an economy of 3.91, while his best spell was 2 for 19. It did not just stop there, as he also toured England in 2014, where he was the fourth highest wicket-taker in the ODI series, claiming five wickets in four matches, along with an average of 27 and an economy of 4.32, while his best spell was 2 for 14.

In helpful conditions, Bhuvi can wreak havoc in any camp. He has already proved his form in the 50-over format with his 3 for 28 spell against New Zealand in the warm-up game. Not too long back, he was the most successful bowler in the IPL, bagging the ‘Purple Cap’.

Ravindra Jadeja

It was an out of the box performance from Ravindra Jadeja in Champions Trophy 2013 © AFP (File Photo)
It was an out of the box performance from Ravindra Jadeja in Champions Trophy 2013 © AFP (File Photo)

As we save the best for the last, it has to be the star performer from the 2013 edition in the form of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja finished as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 12 scalps from five matches, along with an average of 13 and an economy of 3.75. Although it was an out of the box performance from Jadeja, no one did really expect Jadeja to fire in the manner he did. He was Man of the Match in the final against England.

Jadeja’s bowling is what India will hope to click but he remains one of the underrated batters as well. He has an excellent record in ODIs in England. Jadeja has 266 runs to his name at 88.66, add that to his bowling average of 20.86 in the country.

Jadeja had a dream run in the 2016-17 home season in Test cricket but had an off-time during the IPL for Gujarat Lions. This should not be a matter of concern as India enters the marquee tournament. India will hope the Jadeja fairytale to continue.